Local News Archives

Age Discrimination Claims By Former Symphony Musicians Denied By SMSO Director

Three members of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra have chosen to resign rather than go through work to make improvements as the result of getting musical warning termination letters. Susan Dietrich-Reed and her husband Steven are two of them, and she says all five who received the letters over the age of 65. Symphony director Sue Kellogg tells WSJM News it is part of contract negotiations and the five receiving the letters were musicians that the music director felt needed some improvements. Dietrich-Reed is questioning if it’s age discrimination, which Kellogg denies. Kellogg was adamant in talks with both WSJM News and MoodyOnTheMarket.com that no musicians have been or are being fired. Dietrich-Reid tells us a sixth musician who is 63 received a “milder disciplinary letter.” She has been playing for 44 years, while her husband has been playing for 40.. ...Read Full Story

Police Urge Caution On Water

Even the strongest swimmers and most experienced boaters will be in big trouble if they fall into fast-moving river water. That’s a lesson to learn after a Kalamazoo kayaker was found dead in the St. Joseph River after a three day search. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News the river conditions have been harsh lately.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Five Year Plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released its next five-year plan and is taking the public’s comments. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the biggest projects tend to be in the large metro areas, although there are about 15 Berrien County road and bridge projects planned. They include laying the groundwork for the eventual connection of US-31 and I-94. The prep work includes two separate projects.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Parlak Victory

Congressman Fred Upton expects Ibrahim Parlak may seek U.S. citizenship now that a federal immigration judge has allowed him to avoid deportation. The judge last week approved Parlak’s application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, meaning he won’t be deported to Turkey. Upton tells WSJM News the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can appeal, but he’s not sure it will.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Endorses LaSata

State Representative Kim LaSata has received the endorsement of the man she is running to replace in the Michigan Senate’s 21st District. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News he’s backing LaSata because he believes her priorities will be the best. Proos says LaSata voted to roll back the state income tax, for example.. ...Read Full Story

Boy Injured In Fireworks Accident

A 12-year-old boy has lost part of his hand and suffered injuries to his face due to a fireworks accident over the weekend in Berrien Township. Michigan State Police tell us the incident happened shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. Troopers were called after the boy suffered serious injuries to the hand and face while igniting a mortar-style firework. It exploded instantly upon being ignited. Medic One ambulance took the boy to Borgess Memorial hospital in Kalamazoo, and then he was transferred to the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor for surgery. His injuries included the partial amputation of one hand and minor injuries to the other hand and face. Two adults who were present at the time of the incident were not hurt. The incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Commission: Investigate LGBT Complaints Despite AG

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has directed an agency to continue investigating complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity despite the state attorney general having
declared its interpretation of the law to be invalid. The commission made the decision Monday, three days after Bill Schuette said only the legislature or voters can expand Michigan’s civil rights law to provide LGBT protections. Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu says the commission is an independent, constitutionally created body that isn’t bound by
Schuette’s opinion. He says the only recourse is for courts to decide the matter, and LGBT-based discrimination will continue to be investigated. A Schuette spokeswoman says his opinion is binding on state agencies, in part because he’s the attorney for all executive departments and agencies.. ...Read Full Story

Pfizer Planning MI Expansion

From the Associated Press — Pfizer Inc. has been awarded $11.5 million in state incentives to build a new manufacturing facility in Michigan and add 450 jobs. The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the deal Tuesday. State officials said the pharmaceutical company headquartered in New York could have chosen one to expand in one of its 12 other facilities across the world. Pfizer plans to spend $465 million on a new sterile drug manufacturing facility in Portage near Kalamazoo. The facility – which will take eight years to construct – is needed so Pfizer can comply with new regulations from the federal government.
This is the first time the state is doling out special tax incentives under its “Good Jobs” program that was enacted last year.. ...Read Full Story

Bureau: Minimum Wage, Sick Time Drives Have Enough Petition Signatures

The Michigan elections bureau says enough voter signatures have been submitted by proponents of ballot drives to raise the minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick time. The bureau released reports Tuesday, and the Board of State Canvassers could certify the signatures at a meeting Thursday. Business groups have challenged the petitions, but the challenges were rejected by the bureau. A lawsuit filed by restaurants opposing the minimum wage proposal is pending in the courts. If certified, the measures would go to the Republican-led Legislature. If it did not act, the proposals would be placed on the November ballot. Proponents want to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and require a minimum amount of earned sick time, depending on the size of a business. Part of the minimum wage proposal would eliminate the lower wage for tipped workers and raise their pay to the standard minimum wage. Those who are opposed to that include bartenders and wait staff around the state, who argue it would be a massive pay cut with tips being eliminated.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Credit Rating Goes Up

Standard and Poor’s has increased Michigan’s credit rating. Michigan Department of Treasury spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News this is the first credit rating increase for the state in the past ten years. S&P has moved Michigan from AA-  to AA with a stable outlook. Leix says this means something for the state’s residents.. ...Read Full Story